Join an Orchestra in 2023!

The Christchurch School of Music is one of New Zealand’s greatest musical treasures, and we’re on the hunt for musicians to join our range of orchestras – no matter your age or experience! We are taking Semester 2 2023 enrolments now!

Learn more about our range of Orchestras available to join for both children and adults, and if you’re keen – register your interest to enrol at the form at the bottom of this page!

Our Christchurch Youth Orchestra (CYO) Recorded at the Douglas Lilburn Auditorium of the Christchurch Town Hall – April 2022

Experience the transformative power of playing in an orchestra at CSM!

  • Unlock your musical potential while having a blast!
  • Develop crucial skills like rhythm, pitch, and sight reading through the magic of orchestral music
  • Be part of a “big” sound from the early stages of your musical journey, creating unforgettable musical memories
  • Immerse yourself in a diverse repertoire that blends timeless classics with exciting contemporary tunes
  • Unleash your passion for music while enjoying the camaraderie of playing alongside other musicians

Whether you’ve been playing for 10 months or 10 years – there is an orchestra at CSM for you!



When: Saturdays 8:45am – 9:55am

Where: Avonhead School (55 Avonhead Road)

Conductor: Anne Robinson

Students choosing to learn an orchestral instrument should consider joining the Junior Symphony Orchestra (JSO) after they have been learning for about a year. Students need to have some confidence in reading music in order to enjoy the experience, but your teacher will be able to help you to decide the appropriate time to join. JSO is a fantastic introduction to orchestral playing where students will learn the concept of a beat and learn the importance of watching the conductor. Students of all ages are welcome to join this wonderful orchestra.


When: Saturdays 10:00am – 11:25am

Where: Avonhead School (55 Avonhead Road)

Conductor: Matthew Harris

The Intermediate Symphony Orchestra is generally appropriate for students who have been learning an instrument for 3-5 years. As many of our students in this orchestra are still quite young, the focus at this level is mostly on making the orchestral playing experience enjoyable, but students will also begin to learn more about advance musical concepts and interpretation (dynamics, phrasing, accents). A greater scope of repertoire including arrangements of well known classical pieces.


When: Saturdays 11:30am – 1:00pm

Where: Avonhead School (55 Avonhead Road)

Conductor: Tony Ryan

Sinfonia is our senior Saturday Orchestra. Players are selected on merit, and ages range from around 11 or 12 year-olds to senior secondary school students. A general guideline for Sinfonia’s ability level is grade 5 and above.

This orchestra mainly plays standard repertoire by composers such as Tchaikovsky, Dvořák, Brahms, Sibelius, etc. Some recent performances have included Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, Mars from Holst’s The Planets, Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances, Saint-Saëns’ Danse Macabre and music specially written for the orchestra by its conductor and composer Tony Ryan.

Some recent special projects have included playing alongside the NZSO, a joint performance with the Christchurch Youth Orchestra, a video performance in the Christchurch Town Hall, and a ‘Flashmob’ tour of two Christchurch shopping centres.

Although Sinfonia aims for high quality music-making and a professional level of presentation, there is a strong focus on players having an enjoyable and rewarding experience. The orchestra also has tertiary-level student assistants for each section (strings, woodwind, brass, percussion) who often play alongside the younger players.

Many Sinfonia players later go on to play in CSM’s Christchurch Youth Orchestra, and several have then become Sinfonia’s tutors and assistants themselves.


When: Thursdays 6.00pm – 7.00pm

Where: Avonhead School, 55 Avonhead Road, Room R28

Conductor: Tessa Olivier

A string ensemble formed especially for adult string players who have been learning for a few years or who learnt in the past and would love to get the violin, viola, cello or double bass out and play it again! The ensemble rehearses weekly and players will learn technical and orchestral aspects of playing in groups as well as playing string orchestra music. The group is very social and is perfect for adults wanting to have some fun with their music!

“A great Christchurch institution. Well organised and a wonderful place to learn to play an instrument at any age. I wouldn’t be as passionate about music without the outstanding support, teaching and joy that CSM provides!

Joleen Cherry

Ensemble rehearsals starting from


per semester

About The Christchurch School of Music

Tens of thousands of Christchurch children and adults have learned to love and appreciate music at CSM. CSM is a place where the whole family can learn music in the same place at the same time! We also offer a wide range of orchestras, ensembles and performing groups for all ages and abilities.

CSM is a not-for-profit organisation with a strong focus on community. On a Saturday morning the whole family can find something musical to match their interests and abilities. Preschool children can begin their musical journey by joining in our experiential “Take Off with Music” while older children and adults may opt for group or individual lessons on a specific instrument (including voice). Those who already play are welcome to join in one of our fabulous ensembles or choirs. If Saturdays aren’t an option for you or your family, CSM also offers a range of weekday opportunities for learning and playing music.

The variety at CSM is not limited to the selection of instruments and teachers, but includes a wide range of musical styles. For those with an interest in classical music our graded orchestras are the perfect choice. The family oriented concert band plays a vast selection including classical, show tunes, folk music and popular songs that everyone will recognise. 

Filling out this form does not immediately lock you in to an orchestra – we will contact you to discuss your needs and find the best fit for you or your child. Want to chat with us before filling out the form?


(03) 366 1711

Register Your Interest in Joining an Orchestra

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